Jennifer Balkus

Associate Professor, Epidemiology



PhD Epidemiology, University of Washington, 2012
MPH Epidemiology, University of Washington, 2005
BA Women Studies, Wesleyan University, 2000



Box 351619
Department of Epidemiology
Hans Rosling Center for Population Health, 871A
Seattle, WA 98195


Dr. Balkus is an infectious disease epidemiologist whose research spans across the fields of sexual and reproductive health with a specific focus on questions that interface between the vaginal microbiome and STI & HIV prevention among both pregnant and non-pregnant people. Dr. Balkus is passionate about improving genital health for all people with a vagina and has contributed to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention STD guidelines for the treatment of bacterial vaginosis.  She has expertise in conducting both clinical trials and observational studies, in the US and globally, and currently leads two NIH R01-supported research projects. The first is evaluating the relationship between vaginal bacterial and susceptibility to Chlamydia trachomatis infection among a cohort of cisgender women in Kenya. The second project is assessing opportunities to improve STI testing and treatment to reduce STI recurrence among a cohort of cisgender adolescent girls and young women in South Africa. Dr. Balkus is also an Affiliate Investigator at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center where she is an investigator with the Microbicide Trials Network (MTN) and the Infectious Disease Clinical Research  Consortium (IDCRC). She serves on protocol teams for two ongoing MTN trials that are assessing the safety of the dapivirine vaginal ring in pregnant and postpartum breastfeeding individuals and an upcoming IDCRC trial assessing the SARS-CoV-2 immune response among pregnant individuals who receive different vaccine platforms during pregnancy. In addition to her research, Dr. Balkus teaches both undergraduate and graduate courses in the School of Public Health and serves as the faculty co-chair or the Department of Epidemiology’s Equity and Diversity and Inclusion Committee.

Research Interests

  • Vaginal microbiome
  • STI prevention
  • HIV risk prediction
  • Hormonal contraception
  • Women
  • Africa

Recent Publications (PubMed)

Vaginal Microbiome Metagenome Inference Accuracy: Differential Measurement Error according to Community Composition.
(2023 Mar 28)
Carter KA, Fodor AA, Balkus JE, Zhang A, Serrano MG, Buck GA, Engel SM, Wu MC, Sun S

Next generation sequencing to examine associations between vaginal washing and vaginal microbiota: A cohort study.
(2023 Mar 21)
Sabo MC, Balkus JE, Richardson BA, Srinivasan S, Kimani J, Anzala O, Schwebke J, Fiedler TL, Fredricks DN, McClelland RS

Epidemiologic Evidence on the Role of Lactobacillus iners in Sexually Transmitted Infections and Bacterial Vaginosis: A Series of Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses.
(2023 Apr 1)
Sex Transm Dis 50(4): 224-235
Carter KA, Fischer MD, Petrova MI, Balkus JE

Bacterial vaginosis-associated bacteria in cisgender men who have sex with women: prevalence, association with non-gonococcal urethritis and natural history.
(2022 Dec 6)
Sex Transm Infect
Zinsli KA, Srinivasan S, Balkus JE, Chambers LC, Lowens MS, Morgan J, Rowlinson E, Robinson TS, Romano SS, Munch MM, Manhart LE, Fredricks DN

Correction to: Intimate Partner Violence and Engagement in the HIV Care Continuum among Women in Sub-Saharan Africa: A Prospective Cohort Study.
(2023 Mar)
AIDS Behav 27(3): 990-991
Roberts ST, van der Straten A, Rael CT, Gorbach PM, Palanee-Phillips T, Reddy K, Naidoo K, Dadabhai S, Chinula L, Gaffoor Z, Levy L, Balkus JE, Riddler SA

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